Professional Development for Teachers

Professional development workshops for Gotham staff are designed to serve as a forum to experiment with ideas and explore connections between works of art on view at the Whitney and classroom curricula. We want to increase teachers’ comfort level with using works of art as primary sources and as a starting point for discussion-based learning in the galleries and in the classroom.

About Contemporary Art

man examines art work on wall

Alex White, Principal of Gotham, taking a closer look at Curtis Mann's After the Dust, Second View (Beirut), 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow

During this one-hour workshop in 2010the Whitney Biennial, teachers explored connections between contemporary art and classroom curricula. Besides looking to books and the Internet for information about the art and artists, teachers considered alternative sources such as wall text and audio guide transcripts. This was the first workshop jointly-led by a Gotham teacher and a Museum educator.


Activities in the Galleries

kids on floor listening to man talk

Teacher reciting a poem inspired by one of the sculptures in Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen: The Music Room, 2009. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow

Teachers learned various non-discursive strategies and participated in gallery-based activities while exploring two exhibitions, Dan Graham: Beyond and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen: The Music Room. They wrote a collaborative short story at Graham’s Heart Pavilion, (1991), enjoyed a dance party in Graham’s Public Space/Two Audiences, (1976), and responded in poetry to Oldenburg’s and van Bruggen’s Soft Viola, (2002).

Teaching with works of art

people stand in a room writing and looking at art

Teachers investigating Andrea Bowers's Memorial to One of the Largest Urban Farms in America (South Central Community Garden, at 41st and Alameda Streets, Los Angeles, 1994-2006), 2008. Photograph by Ai Wee Seow

In this two-part workshop, teachers worked together in groups to brainstorm interdisciplinary connections for selected works in the Whitney's collection. Teachers also considered the role of multi-media resources such as YouTube videos in deepening students' understanding about the art or artist.